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21 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

T. WELSH MINERS EXECUTIVE.

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T. WELSH MINERS EXECUTIVE. ITS RECORD IN THE WAR. LONDON NEWSPAPER'S SCATH- ING INDICTMENT. A correspondent of the Morning Post writes :-In the recent W ages Agreement strike the Government—and Mr. Lloyd George mote actively than any other mem- ber of it-o-ave the South VVallea miners practically all that they demanded. It has now got its rewara. The boast OF .NII*. iu- atone that we a.re the most free country under Heaven is quite a delicious piece of irony. In tho South Wales coalfield iu- dustrial freedom does not exist. The tyramiy of the Federation makes it almost impossible for any miner to obtain a liveli- hood except under the condition of mem- bership of that body, and of servile acqui- escence in its decisions, how over ra.8ih or "wrong they may be. But the chief com- ment I wish to make on these speeches and writings on the threats of a strike which they bait very thiniy veil is that which will be conveyed by a bald record of the principal executive acte of the South Wales Miners' Federation since the beg.imung of the war. In many senses the rank and file of the workmen have been patriotic m the highest degree. They have enlisted in their tens of thousa.nds. I do not believe any other industry has contributed a larger per- centage of its eligible men to the Army, and the service which the miners have rendered at the front lias maintained the highest traditions of the old Welsh regiments. But I am concerned with the acts of the leaders m their organised collective capacity, and not with thoee of the majority of the work- men. and this has been their record. A Bad Start. -1 I Vil XJ.UJJIX9D LSI,, LIley reuiseu W \;1.HU- ply with a request of the Admiralty agents at Cardiff to recommend the miners to cut their holidays short and resume work on the Tuesday after the August Moraiay Bank Holiday. The needs of the Navy were urgent and imperative, and when Mr. Wiiwrt-on Churchill, then First Lord, heard of this decision, he immediately wired a direct appeal to them to reconsider it. They did reconsider it on the morning of Rank Holiday, but only to reaffirm it and to ad- vise the men to rema.in idle till the follow- ing Thursday. Breaking the Truce. i JI A. week later, however, they showed, a slight- spark of loyalty—but at the price of extra wages—by agreeing to recommend the men to work an extra hour per day and to the observance of a truce over labour dis- putes, and for three months operations in the coalfield were Il.g peaceable as they were in the other big industries in which a truce had been iecla,red between Capital and Labour. In December, however, the first step was taken in a, movement which not only de- stroyed the truce but also led eventually to the strike of last July, for in December, 1914, the Executive Council of the South Wales Miners' Federation by resolution called upon the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain to take into consideration the question of general wage -igreement". In the national interest the railway workers and the transport workers had agreed to defer their pre-war programmes till peace had been re-esta.b- lished. That was the only loyal course for the miners to have followed, but they took the other course, and on April 1 they handed in the three months' notice which on June 3C terminated the old Wages Agreement. In March last the war-bonus wages boom was on. During that dispute South Wales was the chief driving force in. the struggle for a uniform national advance against the employers' offer to deal with the demand locally. In the end the Government found local sectional treatment to be the only prac- tical method of settlmg the amount of the war bonus but the Executive Council of the South Wales Miners' Federation went so far in their opposition to that plan as to carry to national conference a resolution in favour of a national strike and the immediate service of a 14 days' notice to that end. A Pladge, Again, w hen m June the crisis over the new W age Agreement became acute, the coal- owners placed themselves in the hands of the Government, believing that, that methcd would he the HIt likely to preserve peace, but the Executive Council of the South Wales Federation deliberately refused to allow the control of their case to pass out of their hands and unceremoniously rejected a scheme for a temporary settlement euggested by a Department of the State. In the House of Commons on Julv 1 Mr. Steph en Walsh. speaking on behalf of the Executive Council of the Miners' Fede- rahm, pledCTed the miners oi the country to a solemn obligation not to allow anv strike to talce place in any of the coalfields of the country. The miners were excluded from the Munitions Bill on the strength of that pledge, and the bargain r-described by Mr. Walsh as a bargain with the nation and j its Government. n- That Was Dishonoured. That solemn pledge, however, the leaders of the South Wales miners repudiated; on June 30 they refused to accept the Govern- ment terms of settlement except as a basis of negotiation; on July 15 they rejected more favourable but still unsatisfactory terms and entered on the strike which lasted till July 22; in August they threatened an- other strike on the bonus turn question; &nd ended the dispute with such a.n interpre- tation of one of its clauses as to make the position of Lord St. Aldwyn as Independent a,, I t h leave him Chairman impossible and thus leave him with no alternative but to resign a seat which he had held since 1904. These are the antecedents of the executive body of a Trade Union which now, without i knowing the facts. and in the presumption of a superior knowledge as to what are the needs cf the State than that possessed by the Government, is fomenting trouble in the coal-mining industry over the question of military sev; It will be seen that it has exalted its own interests above those of the country at almost every turn, and that its whole policy has been a persistent menace to that unity which is so essential to the suc- cessful prosecution of the war.

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